Episcopalian Sacraments: Valid or Not?

There’s probably been a thread of this nature before, but please bear with me.

I’ve just recently received the sacrament of reconciliation in the Catholic Church for the first time in maybe eight years, and the Eucharist for the first time in three!

I also attend an Episcopal Church (USA). I didn’t receive sacraments from them, because I was in a state of sin. However, now that I’m able to receive sacraments again, I’m thinking about receiving the Eucharist and Reconciliation from them, too. I was unsure about this, since technically they’re protestant.

However, I did some research, and it looks like the sacraments at my Ep. church are more or less the same as at my Catholic church–that is, they have apostolic succession like Catholics. Does this mean that I should treat them the same as, say, an Eastern Orthodox Church? If so, what are the rules about receiving sacraments therefrom?

Please be patient with me, as I’m still learning. :slight_smile:

The overwhelming majority of Anglican/Episcopalian priests, deacons and bishops are not validly ordained. Likewise, none of the “sacraments” they celebrate like the Eucharist or Reconciliation are valid either.

Only a very few Anglican/Episcopalian priests, deacons and bishops ordained by Old Catholic bishops, who are themselves validly ordained, have received the sacrament of Holy Orders.
This situation is extremely unusual, even for the Anglican/Episcopal Churches.

Here’s the thing though. If the bishops under Henry VIII were validly ordained, it stands to reason the the Episcopal Church of the USA maintains apostolic continuity and valid sacraments–especially those of the Anglo-Catholic persuasion.

From what I understand, Anglicans have also picked up Old Catholic and Orthodox lines, as you say, since the 30s or so. There’s also been a concerted effort to spread these lines–supposedly, the vast majority have been thus validated, despite having their own perfectly valid lines in the first place.

From what I understand, the same situation exists with the Porvoo Communion.

Wrong. Their sacrifices became invalid when they denied the sacrificial nature of the mass.

The Anglican mass, at least at the parish I attend, is quite sacrificial in nature. For example, there is a line, following the breaking of bread: “Christ our passover is sacrificed for us. Let us keep the feast.”

It doesn’t matter. Receiving Communion is about more than validity. Even in the rare case where Communion is valid, receiving Communion at a non-Catholic church would be to express a Communion between the Churches that dosn’t exist and to publically express Communion with a Church you don’t belong to. If you aren’t in danger of death, it’s a sinful act.

Confession is only valid, even from Catholic priests, when the priest has been given faculties from the Catholic Bishop to hear Confessions and to absolve. No Episcopal priest is given faculties to hear Confessions.

This question comes up so much, that the Catholic Church has set out an official ruling on this. It has declared that Anglican and Episcopalian denominations no longer have Apostolic Succession, and therefore, their sacraments are invalid. From the Catholic viewpoint, that’s the end of the story.

Pope Plus X declared Anglican Holy Orders ‘utterly void’. All you need to know.


Apostolicae Curae declared the Ordinal form for consecration/ordination invalid, which, when coupled with the declared invalidity of sacramental intent, means the succession was broken, lost, roughly mid 1500s.

Why go to an Episcopal Church when there’s a Catholic Church near by?

Sorry, it was Leo XIII.

In response to Pope Leo XIII’s Apostolicae Curae of 1896, which declared the Anglican apostolic succession invalid, the Anglican Archbishops of Canterbury, Frederick Temple and York, William D Maclagan, made an official response, Saepius Officio, stating that there is an unbroken apostolic succession in the Anglican priesthood, and that the historical episcopate has been in the British Isles from the earliest days of the Church.

However, the Roman Catholic Church maintains that this apostolic succession was broken by the use of the Ordination Rite of King Edward VI, which deletes all reference to the central priestly function and was deliberately designed to contain no indication of the “fullness of the ministry”, specific tasks of the Catholic bishop or the “high priesthood”, which the Holy See considers essential. The Romans assume that their point of view, based on Late Medieval sacramental theory, is valid for all periods of church history.

In their refutation the Archbishops pointed out, amongst other matters, that no such priestly functions or sacramental theology were evident in the Papal ordination rites of the 9th and 10th centuries, which would render their ordinations invalid as well, using the same criteria aimed at the Anglicans.

Again. It doesn’t matter. Even with a valid priesthood, a Catholic can no more go to an Anglican priest for Communion than he can go to a laicized priest for the Sacraments. And when it comes to Confession, validity requires not only a validly ordained priest but one with faculties to hear your Confession, something an Anglican priest does not have.

Well done, grasshopper.


Yes I was thinking that too.

But am I right in thinking a Catholic can attend a Protestant service as long as they dont take communion? :shrug:

Yes, as long as they still meet their Sunday obligation at a Catholic Mass.

It is no longer forbidden for a Catholic to attend a Protestant service. However, it may not be prudent. If it creates confusion for the family, for example or if attending weakens ones Catholic faith.

Accurate, but not complete. A judgement of invalid form was intertwined with an assumption of invalid intention.

Complicated story/many details.


This is mostly inaccurate. The Anglicans and Utrecht OCs entered into an agreement of complete inter-communion, following the Agreement of Bonn, in 1931 (much history involved; and a similar agreement began with the PNCC in 1946). As part of the inter-communion, they began joint consecrations of bishops. By this (logically), following Ott/ FUNDAMENTALS OF CATHOLIC DOGMA, p.458, the valid but illicit episcopal lines from the OCs were infused into Anglicanism. And thus would be propagated, as the Anglican bishops consecrated and ordained, in due course, assuming all pertinent sacramental aspects were otherwise valid. The Dutch Touch is widely spread, not rare, among Anglicans.

The general subject of Apostolicae Curae and Anglican orders is one that’s been a hobby of mine for over 10 years. You cannot imagine how many times I’ve participated in threads like this. The last time was a few days ago. Lots of information in that thread.



My, yes, you can say that there have been threads on this general subject before. I’ve been laboring in those particular salt mines around here for years. The last thread on the subject was titled “When did the valid apostolic sucession of the Church of England loose it’s validity?” , and can be found on the page of threads just before this one. Full of facts and fallacies, that thread.

The general answer, IAW the statements and teachings of Apostolciae Curae, is that, as a RC you must affirm that Anglican Orders are absolutely null and utterly void (in the words of Monsignor Raphael Merry del Val, who wrote the Bull for Leo XIII). A complicated subject.

Anglicans may disagree, of course. Anglicans are like that.



In a nutshell, yes, that’s it.

Long story involved, behind the nutshell. Politics, theology, history, personalities. Long, sad story.


*Anglicanus-Catholicus *

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